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Neutral Zone Wrap: Who's on the rebound?

by | Rotowire.com
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The regular season is here. Hallelujah!

Hope you had a relaxing summer, one where absolutely nothing happened except for the anticipation of meaningful NHL action. OK, so maybe you moved to another country and got married. But even if those events took place in the last few months, then your sights must have remained locked on hockey.

You may have forgotten some material since the Blackhawks shocked the Bruins (and us) in Game 6 of the Cup Final. Hope you have perused the other site resources and articles and feel sufficiently caught up. But if you're craving one more piece to get you going, then you're in luck.

There's always room for improvement. Not only in your leagues but also for actual NHLers who are poised to step up their game. Here are a few hopefuls who may not be getting the most attention or may be maligned for recent indiscretions but could serve as fantasy gold. (NOTE: These individuals could end up depreciating in value but that would depend on uncontrollable factors or how you use them in your lineup. In other words, plan accordingly.)

(For other related examples, be sure to check out Jan Levine's sleepers article.)

Brad Boyes, F, Panthers: Posted very respectable numbers with the Islanders in 2012-13 (35 points in 48 games, including 13 on the power-play) but was probably pushed out due to a forward glut. On a relatively young Panther lineup, Boyes was brought aboard on a tryout basis and has seamlessly fit in on a line with Kris Versteeg and rookie Aleksander Barkov. Don't expect any eye-popping figures; somewhere in the 50-point range will suffice.

Jannik Hansen, F, Canucks: The recipient of a new four-year, $10 million contract will be asked to assume more responsibility. In his five-year career, the Danish winger has excelled as a shorthanded contributor and is slowly working his way as a dependable top-six forward (note the 27 in 47 last year). With Zack Kassian maintaining his penchant for on-ice stupidity, it would seem Hansen is firmly positioned as the second right winger on the Canucks' depth chart and a spot on one of the power-play units.

Jussi Jokinen, F, Penguins: Fine, so Jokinen became an immediate success (11 in 10) after arriving from Carolina in April. But it was presumed the Finn wouldn't be able to repeat this feat skating on the third or fourth unit. In training camp and exhibition action, he has displayed great chemistry with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal (including a hat-trick against Columbus). And it seems that anyone who teams up with that duo should be destined for something better than average. It's funny to think the Canes are still paying a quarter of Jokinen's salary as part of their giveaway sweepstakes.

Ryan Miller, G, Sabres: You might be surprised to see the 2010 Vezina winner listed in this category but Miller belongs here. His stats last season 'slipped' to a 17-17-5 record with a 2.81 GAA, mainly a factor of a fresh Sabres squad that finished last in the Northeast. Some of the media and fan pressure looks like it eventually affected Miller, although he kept his cool and proved to be Buffalo's best player on many nights. Fortunately, there are three factors working in his favor. First off, Miller will undoubtedly want to prove his detractors wrong and step up his game. Secondly, his long-term contract expires next summer and he will want to exhibit his top skills for a new deal. And finally, the starter from Vancouver 2010 will be motivated for Sochi in his bid to reclaim the #1 job for the US squad. (Jonathan Quick appears to be the current frontrunner.)

Sami Salo, D, Lightning: A lot more was expected of Salo after inking a deal with the Bolts before last season. After all, the now-39 year old has always been known for his cannon from the point. And although Tampa finished in the top-half of the league in power-play percentage (13th at 19%), he wasn't a major factor (seven PPPs, 17 overall) and only managed a shot per game (with a paltry two goals). With a season in the Sunshine State under his belt and no Vincent Lecavalier to hinder backline man-advantage opportunities, expect Salo to increase his frequency hitting the net and continue scaring the bejeezus out of opposing goalies.

Honorable mention: Justin Abdelkader, F, Detroit; Josh Bailey, F, NY Islanders; Colin Greening, F, Ottawa; Adam Larsson, D, New Jersey; Tim Thomas, G, Florida

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Player News
Ryan Murphy
Return Date Still Uncertain For Canes' Murphy
Ryan Murphy, D, CAR
3/6/2015
News: Coach Bill Peters said Thursday that Ryan Murphy (leg) is still facing an uncertain return date.
Analysis: The Hurricanes were expected to have a clearer idea of Ryan Murphy's timetable by this point in the week, but it appears they weren't able to gain the clarity they were looking for. Peters did mention that the Hurricanes won't rush Murphy back into action until they're confident he can play on a regular basis, so the blueliner may need to log multiple days of practices in a row before he's activated from IR.

Teuvo Teravainen
Chicago's Teravainen Likely To Be Scratched Friday
Teuvo Teravainen, LW, CHI
3/6/2015
News: Teuvo Teravainen is expected to serve as a healthy scratch Friday against the Oilers, Tracey Myers of CSN Chicago reports.
Analysis: It sounds like coach Joel Quenneville is itching to get a look at the recently acquired Andrew Desjardins, so he'll slot into the lineup for his Blackhawks debut while Teuvo Teravainen heads to the press box. Teravainen was expected to be the main ice time beneficiary in the wake of Patrick Kane's long-term injury, but he hasn't played more than 14 minutes in the three games since his call-up.

Michael Latta
Caps' Latta Out Thursday
Michael Latta, C, WAS
3/6/2015
News: Michael Latta (upper body) will not play Thursday against the Wild.
Analysis: The Capitals are still listing Michael Latta as day-to-day with the injury, but since he failed to participate in the team's morning skate, he'll be held out of the lineup Thursday. Andre Burakovsky is expected to fill in for him on the Caps' fourth line.

Tuukka Rask
Bruins Expected To Roll With Rask On Thursday
Tuukka Rask, G, BOS
3/6/2015
News: Tuukka Rask is in line to start Thursday's game against the Flames, the Calgary Sun reports.
Analysis: With the Bruins clinging to the No. 2 wild card seed in the Eastern Conference, Tuukka Rask figures to remain busy going forward, though it's worth noting that the team has back-to-back contests this weekend, against the Flyers on Saturday and the Red Wings on Sunday.

Corey Crawford
Hawks Turn To Crawford On Friday
Corey Crawford, G, CHI
3/6/2015
News: Corey Crawford is slated to start Friday's game against the Oilers, ESPN Chicago reports.
Analysis: Corey Crawford, who has won his last two starts, will take aim Friday at an Oilers squad that remains in last place in the Western Conference, with 46 points in 64 games to date.

Tim Erixon
Leafs' Erixon Iffy For Thursday
Tim Erixon, D, TOR
3/6/2015
News: Tim Erixon (illness) is questionable to play Thursday against the Lightning, TSN's Jonas Siegel reports.
Analysis: Tim Erixon, who was claimed on waivers from Chicago on Sunday, suited up for his first game in a Toronto uniform on Tuesday, seeing 15:52 worth of ice time in the process.

Alex Burrows
Canucks' Burrows Slated To Play Thursday
Alex Burrows, LW, VAN
3/6/2015
News: Alex Burrows (groin) was a full participant at the Canucks' morning skate and looks in line to play Thursday against the Coyotes, Jeff Paterson of TSN 1040 reports.
Analysis: Alex Burrows resumed skating with the team Monday after first suffering the groin injury about two weeks ago. He skated as a member of the Canucks' second line and saw duty on the top power-play unit during Thursday's morning skate, a likely indicator that the team considers him fit to play. The winger has been about a half-point-per-game contributor when he's been healthy enough to suit up this season, notching 12 goals and 13 assists in 52 games.

Tyler Seguin
Stars' Seguin Progressing Well
Tyler Seguin, C, DAL
3/6/2015
News: Tyler Seguin (knee) is making progress toward a return to action, Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News reports.
Analysis: While a specific timetable for his return to action has yet to be outlined, the center appears to be ahead of schedule on that front. "Tyler is really closing in on ‘day to day' for us," coach Lindy Ruff said of Tyler Seguin, who was on the ice with his teammates Thursday. "So I would say probably within a week…or sooner. It depends on how he responds to some heavy workouts here today and tomorrow."

Zack Kassian
Canucks' Kassian Back In Thursday
Zack Kassian, RW, VAN
3/6/2015
News: Zack Kassian (illness) will return to the lineup Thursday against the Coyotes, Jeff Paterson of TSN 1040 reports.
Analysis: Zack Kassian was forced to skip Tuesday's game against the Sharks after coming down with a stomach flu. He received an IV to treat the illness, which apparently was enough to aid his recovery. The winger assumed his usual spot on the top line with the Sedin twins, an arrangement that should make him an attractive, cost-effective play in daily formats, particularly against an Arizona squad that ranks 30th in goals allowed.

Sergei Bobrovsky
Blue Jackets' Bobrovsky Set To Start Friday
Sergei Bobrovsky, G, CLB
3/6/2015
News: Sergei Bobrovsky will start Friday's game against New Jersey, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports.
Analysis: Sergei Bobrovsky, who allowed four goals on 32 shots in his return to action in Tuesday's 5-3 loss to the Caps, will look to help the Blue Jackets change their luck on Friday, as the team is in the midst of an 0-6-1 slide.

 
 
 
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